Saturday with the SMP 2

This hall has wireless, so this is my first-ever mid-dress rehearsal blog post, which I thought would be an interesting exercise…. 

We’ve just finished the Shostakovich. We rehearse in a very loud, reverberant room, and this is a very dead, but clear hall. For the first five minutes or so, it was a total shock. Even though we know this hall well and try to rehearse with this space in mind, it’s just a physically different sensation playing in this space. In each movement, there was a sense of edginess not only in the sound, but in the temp- here we have to lay back, play rounder and longer, and breathe slower. By the end, the hall didn’t seem like a factor anymore. It’s still a daunting piece, but I think it’s in quite good shape. 

These days, its common to treat a dead hall as a problem to be solved in the mastering suite. Of course, you can add the actual reverb of Carnegie Hall with the computer, and it helps, but what you can’t do is go back and give the players the sensation of playing, moving and breathing in a space that encourages their sound. In a dead hall, you’ll always struggle to maintain the same fluidity and flexibility in everyone’s physical relationship to the sound, and post-production can only cover, but not cure that. 

Gemma’s here, and I’m just off to talk to her. We did Lalo together about three or four years ago- it’ll be interesting to see if and how her playing has evolved. Of course, the Schumann and Lalo are such different pieces, you can’t really make a comparison! 

Slightly behind schedule as always. 

This is the hottest hall I’ve ever worked in. People thought their varnish was melting in the Shostakovich! Seriously. 

KW 

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About the author

American conductor, composer and cellist Kenneth Woods is Principal Conductor of the English Symphony Orchestra, Artistic Director of the Colorado MahlerFest and cellist of the string trio Ensemble Epomeo. He records for the Avie, Somm, Nimbus, Signum, MSR and Toccata labels.

Learn about Kenneth at www.kennethwoods.net

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